Contributors to this thread:
The gut covered arrow
I was hunting near a field edge last night when all of a sudden I look up and 3 does are there feeding. The first one was as big of a doe as you will find in KY. She was old too. She spotted me in the tree, like old does do, but had no idea what I was. Some more deer coming in from another direction served to calm these first 3 down. Soon I was able to shoot this big doe. I thought she was just slightly quartered when I shot. My pin was right where I wanted and everything at the shot felt, looked and sounded great.
The doe made her way out of the field and into the woods to the west. I immediately started getting down in my climber as I felt the shot was money. I didn't see it, but felt it was good. When I make my way to the arrow buried in the ground it is solid green/brown with gut material and it had that telltale stench. If you have any experience bowhunting, you have gotten down out of your stand after a shot to find an arrow that is, unfortunately, like this. We all read the robotic answers on the net as to what you do when you have gut shot an animal, but what do you do when you are confident where your arrow hit but the arrow evidence doesn't support what you saw or thought? I have had this happen a few times and once recently I remember seeing my arrow go in the 10 on a nice early season doe only to find it covered in gut? When this happened I immediately backed out and left the deer overnight. I recovered her easily the next morning, but I could have easily recovered her that evening as what I had was an animal that was quartered too considerably more than I thought as the arrow exited low just in front of the opposite hind leg. The gut material I was seeing was from the exit location and my entrance was spot on.
This is the way I found that doe the next day. It was warm but the meat was fine. Something had picked at the entrance hole a bit but it was a large entrance from a Killzone regardless.
Fast forward to last night....I did not see my arrow hit the doe, but I was confident that everything felt like it should and that my arrow actually went where it was supposed to go. On that feeling alone I decided to cautiously take up the trail. I made my way to the area where I saw the deer exit the field. I didn't even look for blood prior to this point as I knew that it would be difficult at best to even find a drop in the green field. Once I got to the edge of the woods, I started finding blood. Within a few steps I was certain I had lung blood and remembering the deer above, I continued down the trail. It was not a ton of blood, but it was a very easy trail to follow. After making it about 20 yards I look ahead to see the deer lying down in a very weird position. I glassed her trying to determine any movement and then proceeded slowly. She only went about 50 yards or so into the woods and was dead. My arrow struck her dead center up and down and only an inch or so behind the front leg. She either moved at the shot or was quartered much more severely than I thought. Probably a little of both.
Here is how I found her. I think she made it to her bed, but died immediately
My reason for typing this is that as I gain experience and see more blood trails, what typically would cause me to pause doesn't now and what typically meant full steam ahead might be slowed or stopped if I see something along the trail I don't like. If I hit a deer where I'm supposed to hit them I don't wait 30 minutes. I don't even wait 5. I get down and walk right to them. To me, there is no replacing experience and confidence for game recovery. The more blood trails you see the easier it is for you to recover game that has been hit with a broadhead tipped arrow. While I might proceed cautiously in an instance like this.....I am proceeding and not waiting when I feel that all of the weighted factors put together tell me its good. Having one factor that is not good, such as a gut covered arrow, won't outweigh all of the other evidence. I'm always amazed at the journey. Whether it's bowhunting or life in general, where we are or what we do now is not where we were or what we used to do just a short time ago.
I tend to wait if I have a gut covered arrow. The day after Thanksgiving 2018 I shot a big doe quartering to and I got one lung and stomach. She laid down in sight but I couldn't tell if she died or not as it was getting too dark. Another deer came by and walked past her and her fawn was walking around also. I kind of lost track of her/wasn't sure if she got back up or not. So I snuck out after dark hoping not to bump her. Next morning she was dead right where she laid down. I guess I'd rather be safe than sorry, but I know there can be consequences if you leave them. Coyotes, wolves, or other critters. Warm weather. But even though she was gut shot and started to bloat, the meat was excellent. Disgusting to field dress though, and I should have done the gutless method on her.
That approach will work for you just fine. Till you jump a deer or two you thought for sure was dead and loose it. Any doubt, back on out. Guts on the arrow is obvious reason to doubt a double lung, quick kill.
The arrow has never fooled me but my eyes sure have. The arrow tells me all I need or care to know. I then proceed accordingly.
I'll second what others here have said. We've all been there where we thought we knew what happened, but it wasn't exactly like we thought. We are right most of the time, but there is absolutely no disputing the hard evidence the trail gives you. Guts on the arrow tells you one thing: You hit guts. That means you hit guts. Very difficult to double lung and get guts on anything but a frontal or severe quartering shot with a big head. Even if I was 99% sure my entrance was money, I'd be worried about a single lung. There is a good chance of getting one lung, liver and guts in that situation but knowing what I know today, I'd give it time. 10 years ago, I may have carried on hoping for the best.
Sounds like you did the right thing in both scenarios. With the first deer, finding it where you did doesn't mean it also would have been there if you had gone to recover the same night. Did you do an autopsy? What did you all hit. Besides knowing entry and exit, you can't be certain what you hit without an autopsy. Lungs can be inflated or empty drastically changing what could happen. I've had great shots that weren't so good after an autopsy, and I've had double lungers that shouldn't have been. On the 2nd deer you went forward based on what you knew. What else can you do? Good job reading both situations at the time.
I shot a buck this year that jumped a few yards then walked off and laid down. Seeing both entrance and exit, I thought it would be better than it was. Turns out it was one lung and liver. Most would have sworn double lung. Thankfully he stayed in view, and I watched him die 45 minutes later. Bled like a stuck pig too.
A good out come for a quick search, in our country if you have to leave one overnight the yotes will eat everything up to the head. Just one of the hard decisions out here in the real world.
Good for you and thanks for explaining your perspective On that particular shot. I’ve been on many 100’s of blood trails in the last 39 years and still learn stuff every year.
Also, congrats on the late season hunting! Just got in from a sit myself:)
When I see bubbles in blood and it's all over the ground I'm not waiting....and that deer isn't getting up. I've never lost a deer to yotes in this area but there are so many it's just a matter of time. I 12 ringed this deer but it exited way back. I suspect it moved quite a bit after the shot. I didn't really look close last night but the entrance was absolutely perfect and the exit was just in front of the back leg. The left lung was almost cut in half, liver and then guts.
The first doe exited right behind the last rib or abouts.
When I'm unsure and am not super concerned about yotes....I back out.
Would lighted nocks help you to be even more confident of knowing exactly where you hit an animal....for future hunts?
I don't know Jake. I almost always see where my arrow hits. Not really sure why I didn't see it this time but it happens from time to time. It may have eased my mind more if I saw the arrow but I might have questioned what I saw more too. Who knows....a lot of this game is using your best judgement and I believe over time that you get better at surveying the situation.
My thought process goes like this:
1) Did I see/hear the deer crash? If not, I am waiting in the stand for at least 30 minutes unless rain or darkness is imminent. 2) After 30 minutes if the deer was standing at an angle where if I caught one lung then I caught two, and I find lung blood, then I go after them then. If 1 and 2 are not the case then I have to think through it carefully. I have made what I felt like were really good shots and then jumped the deer after 30 minutes. Like Busta said, it happens and it sucks.
I have never (knock on my wooden head) lost a deer I knew was gut shot. Because I was appropriately cautious. I have lost them when I caught liver and thought I had hit lungs. That sucks. The further out the shot the less reliable your observation of where the arrow hits. Heck, even on the videos on here where we discuss what organs were hit, mistakes are still made.
The type of broadhead someone shoots is a factor too. I shoot fixed blades, but I would be willing to take up a good mechanical head gut shot deer much sooner than my small fixed blade heads. This could be a long topic/post but I guess I am just agreeing with you that there are a lot of variables that dictate decisions and the more experience/observations you can put in your bank the better your decisions.
Good point Candor....another factor I failed to mention was I was shooting a Trypan and k knowing the damage a big mechanical creates is another factor.
On a side note...this was a pretty big doe and very mature. I should have weighed her. For size reference l.....I am not quite 6'4" any longer but close.
I do my thing on every shot. I go by what my gut tells me. I've lost deer just like every one here has. It's been nearly a decade since I have, way more deer then that shot since then, and I haven't lost any doing it that way. And, I don't always prescribe to the if in doubt, back out rule. Too many coyotes, bear, and often heat in early season to do that.
I read bowsite threads every year where guys are hunting in high heat, shoot a deer, elk, or bear, and leave it over night or for 6-8 hours during the day. I wander how many of those guys are being honest about meat loss. It doesn't take long to lose it when it is hot. And, scavengers find them quickly in the heat too. I also read a number of threads were guys are facing these same obstacles, get on the animal quicker then they'd like, and lose them. To only be ridiculed later for it from other posters.
The last deer I lost was one where I followed the in doubt back out mantra. I found her the next morning right after daylight eat from the hind quarters to the shoulders. I kept telling myself all night she was dead. I saw the arrow hit her. Yet the lack of blood I should have been seeing, plus the slightly quartering to angle convinced me before i left her overnight, to do it. I lost that deer over not using my better judgement. Never again.
I'll wait as long as anyone if finding the animal and salvaging the meat is even remotely likely. If not, I'm going to roll the dice and get on them as quick as I dare. To me, finding a ruined animal is the last thing I'm striving for.
Ok don’t take my post as being critical , take what I say and build from it.I have 46 years of hunting whitetails under my belt, wish I was as young as you guys. Anyhow the thing I read in a lot post here and elsewhere is the fact that you are taking quartering to you shots, quit it! Horn porn on TV has made bow hunters think it is ok to take these quartering to shots , yeah it works sometimes. Wait for broadside or slightly quartering away shots, yes you will not get the shot sometimes but that is bowhunting. You are correct in your blood trailing tactics, you have to take all the info your eyes,the arrow and deers reaction into consideration before taking up the trail-good job!
Um, definitely take my post as critical. I must be losing my freaking mind or something. I honestly thought responsible bowhunters on the Bowsite held themselves to similar standards that I hold myself to. I suppose that's just not the case anymore. You know what I strive for? A close shot, a broadside or quartering away angle on an un-alarmed deer, and an animal that is dead less than a minute after I drop the string. That's what I strive for. So "finding a ruined animal is the last thing I'm striving for" now? That's the new standard? That right there is the problem with this thread. What about "a poor shot and a slow, lingering death and a non-recovered animal that gets completely consumed by the coyotes is the last thing I'm striving for"? Maybe we should shoot for that one instead, huh? The OP chooses to shoot deer quartering on, instead of waiting for a more ethical shot angle. And, even though he knows he hit guts, he boldly (and ignorantly/arrogantly) states if he see's his arrow hit the 12 ring, regardless of the shot angle, he "ain't a waitin". Well, that's just great. Good luck with that buddy. Having killed over 300 deer with a bow, I'm here to tell you that a quartering on shot is a poor choice, a selfish choice. End of story. And taking up the trail immediately despite finding a gut covered arrow is also poor choice. End of story. You effed up the shot, now live with it.
Chris my wife said I need to be a nicer, kinder person ??
My wife is from Jersey, Jack...
Bowfreak: Several points here.
1. I'm glad you found the deer and the hunt ended on a high note.
2. You also are learning from this as any good hunter does to become a better hunter. It's one thing to know what happened, finding out WHY is can be the tricky part. Blood trails are a WONDERFUL teacher....if you use them as such.
3. You didn't say how far the shot was, but I assume it was close. Assuming this and your comment,..." She either moved at the shot or was quartered much more severely than I thought. Probably a little of both.." (which are dead on and a VERY common occurrence), this once again points out why bowhunting (and especially in woods/cover) is a short distance game. Yes, I can group on targets at 40 yards and many times shoot out to 80, but when hunting I like them at 20 yards and closer and even that is no guarantee. Angles are everything with a bow shot!
The last deer I killed was a small 8 pointer that crossed a jeep trail I was stillhunting along. It was a 15 yard shot and he was standing when I took it. I SWORE he was standing totally broadside to me but when I found him 80 yards later I found that he wasn't. He was quartering away from me by quite a lot based on the arrow entrance/exit holes. Live and learn!
Once again, congratulations!
I've never seen a 12 ring on a deer. Maybe Colorado deer don't have 'em.
The shot was 20 yards.
I'm not sure what set you off Busta, but so be it? I have lived with every effed up shot I have ever made. Thankfully this is one I didn't. I hit the deer right exactly where I was aiming. Let me be the first to apologize to you for this deer not being perfectly broadside or quartering away when my arrow connected. I would assume in 300 deer you would have had a similar situation, but maybe not. I haven't shot 300 deer with a bow, but I've shot over 100 and when I see a blood trail like this I don't back out.
Good day sir.
I have to agree with Busta on this one. The whole time I was reading the original post, I was thinking "why are you taking quartering to shots?" Also, for an arrow to hit the "12 ring" then exit "just in front of the back leg" means the animal was closer to a frontal position than a broadside. Either that, or the mechanical broadhead deflected the arrow badly, which wouldn't surprise me, either.
Anyway, I'm glad you recovered your doe. But, I would rethink posting a thread to brag about a poor shot selection in the future, even if it ends well.
Look at the picture of the hanging doe. You can see the entrance. It's pretty darn close to perfect. No way you can hit there on a frontal. There very well may have been a deflection too.
Hunting ANYTHING is full of "Murphy's". Hunting with a bow is Murphy on steroids!
Maybe that's what keeps us interested?
Like I said, for the entrance to be "perfect" and the exit to be "in front of the rear leg" means the animal was quartering much harder to you than you've claimed. Since the impact was "exactly where you were aiming" that eliminates the possibility that the doe moved while the arrow was in flight. All the evidence you've provided points to a less than favorable shot selection, to me.
Mark, from the two deer photos you've posted, it's obvious you've got the hardest part figured out, and that's staying calm at the center under the pressure/emotion of killing an animal. You're a deadly shot, no doubt about that. So why shoot a deer on purpose that's quartering towards you and risk having to deal with a less than perfect outcome? Why not wait for a broadside or quartering away shot that, when coupled with your deadly accuracy under pressure, almost guarantees a quick, humane kill? If you had the patience to wait until both of those does were broadside/quartering away, your perfect shot placement would have resulted in quick, clean kills, rather than risking the possibility of a lingering death and maybe a lost/wasted animal. And yes, I speak from experience. I've had my share of ugly hits that I'm not proud of. They've taught me to put the animal first, not my desire to kill it. The last quartering on shot I had was just this past November on a giant mid 160's, tall tined 4x4. I passed the shot waiting for a broadside that never happened, he winded me instead and ran out of my life. And I'm as sure as I can be that I would have killed him if I took the shot. But it would have been a one lung/liver/gut hit, and it should be clear by now that if I wouldn't take that shot on a doe, I wouldn't take it on a big buck either.
Yes, I agree quartering to shots are a bad choice. And I fully admit I made a bad choice on the Thanksgiving doe I related earlier in this thread.
And of course it is "horn porn" that caused me to take that shot. SMH. "Horn porn" is a little like climate change. It is responsible for just about everything nowdays apparently.
I don't care for eating gut shot animals nor taking risky shots and I sure don't go by what my eyes think they saw over what the arrow tells me. That is 101 archery deer hunting to me.
In both situations both animals ended up being quartered considerably more than what I thought, they moved, there was a deflection or a combination of all the above. I didn't explicitly mention this, but I have NEVER knowingly shot at an animal that I knew was quartered to more than what I thought might be a top of heart/lung entrance to an exit safely in the lung. I have waited for the perfect shot on many animals and watch them walk out of my life. I have given up plenty of good shots looking for perfect shots. I have however shot a handful of animals that ended up exiting farther back than what I hoped. That's what happened here. I understand if people disagree with me taking up this track immediately, but I saw plenty of bubbly blood on the ground and I was confident the deer was dead, so I proceeded based on all other factors not excluding the heavy coyote population.
The whole point of this thread is that there is one thing about absolutes.....there are no absolutes. Black and white is in reality shades of grey.
Also Matt, I should have commented earlier, but I always appreciate your input as it's nice to hear the opinion of a real life bowhunting Pharisee.
Experience means you have burned everyway imaginable.I just never take up the trail unless I SEE the deer fall. I don't take any quarter to shots from a treestand but take almost ANY quarter away almost to a Texas heart shot...they are deadly. I rely more on the behavior of the deer post shot than any forensics on the arrow.....I've simply seen everything from double lungs with no blood to gut shots without bile. No points are given for early recovery so I usually back out and check my arrow as I begin recovery.Sometimes checking an arrow on a gut shot animal means spooking them to never be found
" ....it's nice to hear the opinion of a real life bowhunting Pharisee."
Your ability to take constructive criticism is admirable, Mark.
The plot thickens here a bit with your last post Mark (and you really thought this was going to be about guts on your arrow?). The entire premise of your initial post was, if you see the arrow hit the 12 ring, you are going, even if your arrow was green, right? So, in other words, your eyes don't lie, if you see the arrow hit the target, you saw what you saw. But now you're saying two things that really completely contradict that. First of all, you're saying that the two does you shot "ended up being quartered considerably more than what I thought". Well, if that's the case, you're eyes lied, didn't they? Then you say that it's possible that when you shot at both of these does "they moved". That's what you said, right? Well, you hit them perfect, didn't you? If they moved and you hit them perfect, that can only mean you must have made a good shot by accident then, right? The last thing you said is that maybe "there was a deflection". I suppose you offer this to try to explain how a shot (or two shots) you took that appeared to be good choices, ended up being good entrance locations, but really bad exits, and perhaps because you shoot expandable broadheads, which are known to deflect (hey, I shoot them too). I mention all this, not to beat you up, but to point out that what you are saying really doesn't make a whole lot of sense. And also to point out that there are an awful lot of variables in this sport of ours. If we go at it your way, by taking low percentage shot angles, and compounding those mistakes by rushing the follow up, we push our luck with those variables and we drastically increase the chances of bad outcomes, of wounded and lost deer. Why would any responsible bowhunter do that on purpose? If we do it another way, by exercising patience, by waiting for a broadside or quartering away shot on an un-alarmed animal, and we wait a reasonable time to take up the trail, we stack the odds in our favor, no, in the animals favor. And we minimize the chances of a slow death and a lost animal. Don't we owe that to our quarry? Is there a chance we will still mess up now and then and have a tough trail on our hands? Of course. It's not a perfect sport. But there is a big difference between making a bad shot and taking a bad shot. That there's an absolute for ya.
Congrats again Bowfreak. Very few guys are still out there this time of year. Deer are usually four months smarter too this time of year. Stands creak and hands are cold! Carry on! C
I didn't see the arrow hit. I proceeded based on the blood that was on the ground and previous experiences.
The previous deer I saw my arrow hit and I saw no blood and backed out. I thought my eyes were deceiving me as there was no blood and all I have is a gut covered arrow. In this instance I backed out. I had no other evidence to go on so I backed out.
I'm ok with the fact that you see my actions from a different perspective. I'm even ok if you see me as being an unethical slob. I know otherwise and I can lay my head down tonight and rest easy about my decisions. Heck....I'm just thankful I'm still here for you to think whatever you think about me and my decisions.
Not that my opinion matters to anyone really Mark, but I don’t think of you as “an unethical slob” (I am curious why you’d chose those words to describe how someone might feel about you though). What I do think is that you aren’t the kind of guy that listens to reason, you have to learn the hard way. So be it. Like I said early on in this, good luck with your approach. I just hope you don’t have to wound/loose too many animals before you learn to stop taking quartering on shots and stop following gut shot deer prematurely. But here’s a news flash for you: My posts on this thread haven’t been directed at you. It was painfully obvious from your initial post that you weren’t looking for any help or advice. You were just here to tell us all how it’s done. So my intentions were never to try and educate someone that’s clearly not looking to learn anything new. I was posting simply to balance the absurdity of your approach with the hopes that any bowhunter that actually didn’t know any better who read this nonsense wasn’t mislead into thinking it was actually somehow acceptable to shoot deer quartering to on purpose (repeatedly), and then pursue them immediately, especially if the arrow is covered with guts.
Busta, let me say this a little louder. For me and everyone else here, STRIVING TO NOT FIND A RUINED ANIMAL STARTS WITH PICKING A SHOT I KNOW MY EQUIPMENT AND I CAN MAKE. QUICK, CLEAN, AND HUMANE. Calm down and read that about 43 times if need be. Then, think about it some more before blowing your top.
Thanks for the nearly illegible cap lock rant WV. Not really sure what it means though. Please remind me, are you the other guy that likes to shoot deer quartering on? The one that strives only to not loose deer to coyotes? That’s you, right?
You quoted my post incorrectly. Then went on fouling the whole thread with your idiotic ramblings. Understand now?
I didn't say that I think you see me as a slob I was saying I'm ok with it even if you did as I can't control what others think.
Bottom line for me is I have made the wrong decision many times in 30+ years of bowhunting but I don't think I made the wrong one here.
Try to see if the deer is quartering toward you. If the deer is quartering toward you then wait for a better shot. That's what I learned from this post.
That is correct elkstabber
'Bout ten years ago, I shot a buck that I thought was perfectly broadside. It was right at sunrise, he was coming in, straight towards me. About twenty yards out he turns to start feeding. I draw, come straight up the leg, pin stops in the V, arrow is on it's way. Watched the lighted nock hit where I was aiming. He spun, took off, went about sixty yards and dropped. I waited a few minutes, gathered my stuff, climbed down and went to the hit site. No blood, lotta hair. I follow the trail he took and the blood is very very sparse. When I got to him I saw my entrance was where I thought, right in the sweet spot on the right side. When I rolled him over the exit was just in front of the opposite hind leg, with gut blocking the exit hole. Either he spun at the shot, OR, he was quartering to. Would I knowingly take a hard quartering shot like that? Nope. Coulda sworn he was broadside.
Matt, I think a handle change is in order. :)
Tom, I like "Bowhunting Pharisee", but don't you think it may be a tad egotistical? ;-)
Don't discount how much a mechanical broadhead can deflect an arrow. I've seen it numerous times. I once shot a quartering away antelope at about 50 yards. He was looking away and relaxed. There was just enough wind to quiet the shot, but not enough to alter it. The antelope never moved while the arrow was in flight. I watched the arrow impact exactly where I was aiming in the rear third of his ribs, which should have resulted in a perfect exit wound. Instead, as soon as the arrow made impact, it deflected more than 90 degrees. The exit wound was further back than the entrance. That was the last time I ever used mechanicals.
If it can move, it will fail. It's just a matter of when.
I made a mistake once, I thought I had made a mistake but really hadn't.
I didn't read everything on this thread, but I will post my related experience... I shot a wild pig several years ago at close range -8 ish yards and perfectly broadside. I saw precisely where the arrow hit and it was perfect. The pig ran out of sight and I initially thought nothing of taking up the trail almost immediately. It was near dark. Never been so confident in a hit. Then I found the arrow. It was stuck 1/3 into the dirt and the whole thing had green slime all over it and stunk bad. I was dumbfounded as that's not what I had just watched happen. It was February and cold, so I left it lay overnight. I was so very confused and questioning my sanity. Did I really see what I know I saw? I easily found the pig not 75 yards away the next morning and I hit it exactly where I thought, in tight behind the shoulder. It only made me even more confused. Post mortem autopsy revealed a double lung shot AND a severed esophagus, with gut matter spewing out into the chest compartment. That explained it all! so I don't know if anyone mentioned it here, but an esophagus hit could be your answer with a good shot and a gut covered arrow...